Tribes Recognize Sen. Michael Sanchez for Preservation of Native Culture, Indian Day

Sanchez Called “Tireless Champion of All New Mexicans” in Proclamation

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo and Valencia) was honored by New Mexico’s tribal leaders on June 18th, who called him a champion of all New Mexicans and an unwavering supporter of tribal sovereignty. Nearly 100 tribal leaders and others from across the state gathered at a reception to honor Sanchez at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Leaders praised Sanchez for his years of work in the Legislature advocating successfully for the preservation of Native traditions.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez

“It is important that we honor the cultures and traditions that make New Mexico so special. Growing up, my parents taught me to treat everyone with respect. It’s an important lesson that we all should follow,” said Senator Sanchez, who drew upon his Belen upbringing in his remarks. That lesson, years later, played an important role in the preservation of Indian Day at the 2015 Session of the New Mexico Legislature. When Republicans chose to break from tradition and deny tribal leaders the opportunity to speak to a joint session of the House and Senate, Sanchez took action to provide a forum that allowed tribal leaders to address state legislators.

The event honoring Senator Sanchez was led by Pueblo of Isleta Governor Eddie Paul Torres Sr., and Laguna tribal member and Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, Debra Haaland. They presented Sen. Sanchez with a proclamation praising his commitment to native concerns and well-being.

“Senator Sanchez has been a tireless advocate on the issues confronting tribal communities throughout New Mexico,” Haaland said. “This event represents only a token of our appreciation for what Senator Sanchez has accomplished during his time in the Senate for Native Americans and all the people of New Mexico.”

Tribal leaders pointed to Sanchez’s demonstrated support for tribal peoples and governments in numerous ways over the past years, including his support for the Tribal Infrastructure Fund and setting aside 5% of the state’s severance tax bond capacity for it – as well as his protection of the fund from attempts to reduce its capacity and/or eliminate it. Leaders thanked Sanchez for fighting for the State Tribal Collaboration Act; for elevating the Indian Affairs Department to a cabinet-level position in state government; for pushing through the Indian Education Act; for passing the 2015 Gaming Compact; and for many millions of dollars worth of capital outlay infrastructure projects requested by tribal governments and entities. At the Isleta Pueblo, this included the newly opened senior center and for water line and treatment projects on the Pueblo.